Biogas bus purchase of city of Vaasa creates markets for clean technology
Due to the limited distribution network, the introduction of biogas in transport is advancing only slowly. On the other hand, in the absence of demand, local infrastructure for biogas is not worth investing in. Sweden, however, has demonstrated repeatedly that the use of biogas as vehicle fuel gains ground rapidly once the public sector decides to support the building of the infrastructure needed. Vaasa decided to follow Sweden’s example.
Ab Stormossen Oy, a waste processing company partly owned by the City of Vaasa, generates biogas out of sewage sludge from Vaasa’s waste water treatment facility and separately collected biowaste. Examples for the use of such biogas so far include the heating of the artificial turf of Botniahalli. Now the goal is to utilise biogas generated this way as year-round transport fuel.
The City undertook to purchase 12 public-service buses running on biogas, while Stormossen invested in a biogas refinery and filling station. The procurement procedures were carried out simultaneously in the autumn of 2014. The 12 buses acquired by the City are estimated to consume one third of the gas generated by Stormossen. Production capacity can be increased to generate sufficient quantities of gas to meet the needs of businesses and private individuals.
“All along we have emphasised that the gas used must be biogas, which supports the creation of new energy generation solutions in addition to increasing transport fuel supply,” says Ms. Heidi Hirsimäki, the City’s purchasing manager.
Comparing the life-cycle cost of buses
The City of Vaasa’s biogas bus procurement process included an extensive dialogue with potential suppliers. The dialogue was based on preliminary call-for-tender documents, to give suppliers a chance to make comments and suggest changes.
In addition to the potential suppliers’ comments, the life-cycle costs were also considered in the preparation of the call for tenders by comparing fuel and maintenance costs over the estimated life cycle of the buses. Using a consumption-linked bonus/sanction method, fuel consumption will be monitored over the entire life cycles of the buses.
In order to include social aspects, the City Council for the disabled was asked to provide a statement on technical solutions needed to provide user-friendly public transport. All suggestions made by the Council were included in the call for tenders.
Acquisition reduces the City’s carbon dioxide emissions
The biogas buses acquired consume, on average, 41 kg of gas per 100 km, which translates into an estimated annual consumption of 320,000 kg. The minimum requirement for the fleet was set at Euro 6 classification, which means a saving of approximately 10 per cent compared with the old fleet.
Replacing diesel with biogas will also reduce carbon emissions by more than 1,000 tonnes each year. This reduction equals 6 per cent of the carbon emissions from the energy consumption related to the City’s internal operations.
Significant regional impact
The acquisition supports the development of local industries and provides a domestic point of reference to service providers and suppliers regarding biogas vehicles. For its biogas bus acquisition, the City of Vaasa received an honourable mention in the “Kestävä julkinen hankkija 2015” contest (“Sustainable Public Purchaser 2015”). The jury found Vaasa’s role in the creation of new infrastructure to be exemplary.
“With this acquisition, Vaasa acts as a regional pacesetter, actively creating markets for new clean technology,” Mr. Juho Korteniemi, Special Advisor at the Ministry of the Employment and the Economy, said in his comment.
The purchase is also related to the programme “Innovatiiviset kaupungit (INKA)” (“Innovative Cities”), whose goal is to promote the creation of innovation centres in Finland. The City of Vaasa heads the sustainable energy solutions theme of this programme.